A mixed methods study was conducted to explore student attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions about physics experiments within two introductory calculus-based physics laboratory courses. The two laboratory courses in this study were a traditional-based (or cookbook) mechanics and heat laboratory, and a guided inquiry-based electricity and magnetism laboratory. The Colorado Learning Attitudes About Science Survey for Experimental Physics (E-CLASS) was implemented as a pre- to post- measure of student attitudes and beliefs. Students’ overall and average fraction of expert-like E-CLASS scores and gains were analyzed using a Wilcoxon signed rank test and Mann-Whitney U test. At the end of the semester, students were also given a set of open-ended questions asking about their perceived learned skills, contributing and hindering factors of success, and suggestions for improvement. Categories were created from the qualitative data to sort their responses. The quantitative (E-CLASS) data showed no statistically significant differences between or across course gains, but there were differential shifts across the courses for particular items on the E-CLASS, predominantly under aspects of experimental design. Students in both courses reported gaining skills and having successes when working with equipment, collaborating with lab mates, and obtaining help from the instructor, but some categories revealed differences under designing experiments, modeling, and utilizing analysis software. Students claimed to have hinderances when using and interpreting the lab manual and feeling rushed to complete experiments. They additionally suggested that their laboratory experience would be improved by changing or updating the lab manual and having additional human support during the experiment.
|Commitee:||Gredig, Thomas, Pickett, Galen|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|Department:||Physics and Astronomy|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 82/6(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Science education, Physics, Educational administration, Curriculum development, Mathematics education, Educational leadership|
|Keywords:||Inquiry laboratories, Physics laboratories, Student attitudes, Student perceptions, Traditional laboratories, Calculus-based physics experiments, Lab manual|
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